Comments on Proposal of GNSO Selected Trademark Issues Review Team

I went through the two strawman proposals carefully and found that many of the ALAC’s suggestions are properly reflected.

I’ve the following thoughts for the community to consider.

1. With respect to the Strawman proposal on Clearing House, I can see significant improvements, such as the item on “identical match”, which is basically consistent at-large discussions.

But the following issue still concerns me:

“Nationally Registered Marks, from all jurisdictions, including countries where there is no substantive evaluation, and no common law rights except for court validated common law marks (with appropriate fees for validation).”

When comparing nationally registered marks and common law marks, I mentioned that the advantage of adopting “nationally registered marks” is that they have clear specifications (territory, presentation of the mark, classes of goods or services, term of protection) shown on the registration certificates and can easily be tabled into the database.

The common law rights are comparatively ambiguous. If a court validation can remedy their ambiguity, then it is not the “appropriate fees” but  clear decisions with the reasons of validation of the marks, from which we can see the goods or services on which the marks are used, duration of use and territorial protection (nationally or only locally).

I suggest change into “except for court validated common law marks (with appropriate reasons for validation)”

2. With respect to the URS, I can see improvements, such as 20-day notice, applicable to registered marks only and specially “answers after default.”

On the other hand, I have still a couple questions and concerns.

a) Mandatory URS

Although it seems consensually agreed by all the stakeholder, I still believe it should be best-practice rather than mandatory.

b) Element of complaint & evaluation

Interestingly, Rule 56 of U.S. Fed. Rule of Civil Procedure on summary judgment is cited as the standard of evaluation. Summary judgments are not common in civil proceedings of all jurisdictions, It is puzzling to adopt such an American-center approach. In addition, evaluation standards  involve not only procedures but substances. Does Citation of Rule 56 of U.S. Fed. Rule of Civil Procedure mean that the Examiners of a service provider will only make decisions procedurally?

Previously, the standards were focusing on “clear-cut” cybersquatting cases, which are inherently and inevitably controversial but at least combine both procedural and substantive elements. I therefore suggest the “standards” be resumed to “clear-cut cases” subject to thoughtful definition.

In addition, I wonder the feasibility of applying Rule 56 of U.S. Fed. Rule of Civil Procedure. The prerequisite of summary judgment proceeding is that there is “no genuine issue for trial” so that the court may quickly move to judgment based on both parties’ submissions (even without supporting affidavits). However, there will be several issues or material facts that need to be verified in URS. Most obviously, how would the examiner assess the elements of complaints (domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a mark in which Complainant holds a valid registration issued by a jursidction that conducts a substantive examination of trademark applications prior to registration and The Registrant has no legitimate right or interest to the domain name; and/or the the domain was registered and is being used in bad faith) in a contested case?

c) Appeal

I don’t understand the complicated appeal system. In previous version, a URS decision can be appealed externally to an Ombudsman or a court. Now is there appealing system available internally? Will it be maintained by the same service provider?

After a decision in any case (default or contested), either party has a right to seek a denovo appeal within the URS process for a reasonable fee to cover the costs of the appeal.

Since we have only limited time to respond, I tried to write down all I thought about for further modifications and criticisms.


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